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Happy new year. Hangovers, sales and resolutions… mostly about never drinking again and not spending too much in the sales. And mostly broken within hours.

January’s also a big month for uni applications – there’s deadlines, interviews and offers. And even for those who aren’t doing the whole UCAS thing till 2013, the new year means the start gun on the process has been fired. Read on for what needs doing this month…

In this month’s newsletter:

 

What should I be doing now? (Yr 13)

If you haven’t clicked ‘enter’ on your application, you’d better handcuff yourself to that keyboard. There’s only a few days to go. UCAS applications need to be done and dusted by 15th January. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you sending it in later, but then it’ll be marked as late. Not the best first impression.

If your application has been safely sat in UCAS’s in-tray for a few weeks now, the offers or interview invites may already be cluttering the doormat. You don’t need to respond to any offers till you’ve heard from them all.

When you do, you can accept two offers: one 'firm' acceptance (that's the uni you'd like to go to most), and one 'conditional' (a back-up plan in case you don't get the grades for your first choice). Obviously, there's no point having a back-up if they're not offering lower grades than your first choice and ideally it should be a low enough offer so that you know, pretty much whatever grades you get, you should have a uni place somewhere. Never accept an offer — even as a back-up — from a uni you wouldn't be happy to study at. What's the point? Then again, if you really didn't want to go there, why did you apply there in the first place?

You can use bestCourse4me to compare your offers. See which courses are most likely to land you the job you want. Or any job for that matter. See where you might end up earning most and whether your offer is higher or lower than the ones they usually make (see below).

Meanwhile, you may have been invited to an interview. Many unis don’t bother these days, but if you get the call, not only is it your chance to impress, it’s an opportunity to scout the terrain. Remember the golden rules of interviews. Prepare what you want to say, make sure you say it, and be the most bubbly, enthusiastic version of yourself you can muster. For more interview tips, click here.

 
 
What should I be doing now? (Yr 12)
 
You’ve only been doing AS (or Highers or whatever) for a few months, but by the autumn, you’ll want to be polishing your application. In the summer, the unis will be on holiday and next term, there’s big exams. That means this term is the best time to start hunting for a you-shaped uni and course.

People often don't realise how much this sort of thing matters. Not all unis and all courses are the same. Some are very likely to lead to highly paid careers in sought-after professions. Others... well, when it comes to certain courses at certain unis, they wouldn't be worth choosing if the only reason for studying them was to get a better job and earn more. That's the kind of stuff bestCourse4me can really help with.
 
bestCourse4me paves your way with fluffy red carpet, helping you work out what course (if any) stands the best chance of getting you the right job — or any job, for that matter. And where should you study it.

 
Did you know? 
 
The lifetime earnings premium of graduates over those with just two A levels is £340,000 for medicine and dentistry, £51,549 for humanities and £34,949 for arts. Go to bestcourse4me.com to find out more.
 
 
New on bestCourse4me: How hot are your A levels?
 
Want to know what grades you really need to get into Biology at Bath or History at Hull? We're not talking about the grades the uni claims (the grades they advertise are often not what they really expect), but the real actual grades that people had who got a place?
 
bestCourse4me has just added our all-new and exclusive A-Level thermometers. When you pick a degree on the website, the A-Level thermometer shows you not only what A-Levels past students studied, but what grades they got.
 
Try it out on the bestCourse4me site by choosing a degree subject and then clicking on the 'A levels' tab to see the thermometers.
 
 
News

Uni applications tumbling... or are they?

The latest numbers from UCAS show that there's currently a 6.4% drop in the number of people appling to university compared to the same time last year. Many people blame the new higher fees for turning people off the idea of becoming students.

That's probably true, but the drop isn't as big as it seems. Last year was the biggest year on record for applications with lots of extra people trying to get in to uni before the higher fees kicked in. If you compare this year's applications with 2010, the fall almost disappear.

And in case you were thinking a slump in applicants means it should be easy to get in, you should know there are still likely to be many tens of thousands more people trying to get in than the number of places on courses. Competition will still be fierce.

Also, some individual unis have reported a late surge in applications as the January 15th deadline approaches. Maybe the tea-cup weather forecast is storm-free after all?

 

Applications at Scottish unis really do tumble, but they get £1bn

The nationwide figures about the drop in applications may be misleading (see above), but in Scotland, there's no denying the fees have been putting people off where number are down over 17%.

But hang on, we hear you yell, I thought Scottish students at Scottish unis didn't pay fees. Why would they be put off? Well, that's right. It's the (mostly) English students who've stopped applying to Scottish unis in such numbers, partly because most Scottish courses are four years and, at Edinburgh and St Andrews Unis, that means English students would have £36,000 of fees. These unis have traditionally attracted a lot of students from South of the Border and are getting worried.   

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government rides to the rescue with a billion quid. They've finalised their funding plans for Scottich unis and have done a U-turn on a budget cut last year. There are strings though: the unis have to work harder to attract and support students from poorer backgrounds.

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

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